Report by Chris Collymore – Head Coach of WAKO GB Junior squad
WAKO GB were representing fighters from 7 universities at the first EUSA
European Combat Games, which were held in Zagreb, Croatia.
Nesta Baxter from Newcastle University
Trinity Leeson Rice from Sheffield University
Ishana Moores from Leeds University
Tennessee Randall from Swansea University
Alannah Bale from Cardiff Metropolitan University
Tom Bowen from Cardiff Metropolitan University
Dan Huxtable from Wales University
Jake Pritchard from Coventry University
With over 19 countries taking part, comprising of 101 European Universities,
this one promised to be an event not to be missed.
The GB squad met up at Heathrow airport on Tuesday 30th July at 7am… The
early bird catches the early worm…
As well as the competitors in attendance, the coaching staff on board were Chris Collymore and Sharon Gill, and Peter Edwards, President of WAKO GB and
Nev Wray, Head Coach of WAKO GB and Vice President.
After a short flight to Zagreb International Airport, the team were provided with transportation and headed straight to the weigh-in and medical. I must say that everyone was professional in their approach and everyone made their respective weight categories.
Rooms were then allocated so that everybody had a chance to settle in, and then meet for dinner in the evening.
Wednesday 31st July
This day was left mostly for the squad to relax, but only after a short training session at the arena where the kickboxing championships were being
held. This gave the competitors a feel of the arena to take in the
atmosphere. Chris Collymore and Sharon Gill took the training session covering some drills in both points and light contact.
They all had a great training session where the cobwebs were well and truly shaken off.
Team GB attended the opening ceremony where Nesta Baxter was nominated as the flag bearer and carried this responsibility with great poise, pride and character.
Later that evening, there was a technical meeting and the draw was then made to finalise all of the competitors’ opponents for the following day.
Thursday 1st August
The GB squad met up at 8.15am to catch the shuttle bus to the arena.
The fighters that were going to take to the ‘squared circle’ were as follows.. Tom Bowen, Alannah Bale, Ishana Moores, Trinity Leeson-Rice, Nesta
Baxter, Tennessee Randall, Daniel Huxtable, Jake Pritchard.
Tom Bowen competed in his first international WAKO event and held his own over 3 rounds but came up just short on this occasion.
Alannah Bale (ladies
u55kg) again was competing at her first WAKO international event, and this fight went all the way to the wire where Alannah received a warning in the dying seconds of the fight, which ultimately cost her the fight. So
unlucky, but I am sure she will be back.
Ishana Moores was competing in both light con and points fighting ladies u55kg today. In her light con fight, Ishana pushed the pace but was beaten by a more experienced fighter. In her points category she would have to fight twice to secure a semi-final spot, and that is exactly what she did in her quarter final fight against a tough Irish opponent.
Trinity Leeson-Rice again, was competing in both light contact and points categories (ladies u55kg). Trinity would have to succeed in winning 2 fights
in both light con and points to secure a semi-final place. In light contact, Trinity took the 3rd round convincingly to put her name in the semi-final place against her Croatian opponent. In points, Trinity pulled out all the guns to beat another fighter from Croatia to secure her semi-final place.
Nesta Baxter competed in light contact and points (ladies u65kg). In light contact, Nesta totally dominated her Hungarian to force her way to the semi-final. In the points, there was a rugged Irish opponent, Nesta took the challenge and controlled the fight and again confidently secured her semi-final spot.
Tennessee Randall was not to be outdone and replicated Nesta Baxter’s performances by doubling up and securing her 2 semi-final births, displaying
great kicking techniques.
Dan Huxtable and Jake Pritchard again, competing in their first WAKO University Combat Games. Both were up against some tough competitors. Jake
in particular, pulled his fight to a draw after 3 rounds and then went into extra time, but lost out on the buzzer. Both fighters will be back to take to the ‘squared circle’.
Friday 2nd August
Semi-finals and Finals day!!!!
The WAKO angels were ready to do battle, on what promised to be a very competitive day for Team GB.
First up was the ladies under 55kg light contact semi-final. This was between 2 GB fighters – Tennessee Randal vs. Trinity Leeson-Rice. These two
put it on the line, but Tennessee proved too strong on this occasion, and went through to the finals. Well done to Trinity Leeson-Rice on a well-deserved bronze medal.
Nesta Baxter was next up in ladies light contact u/65kg. Nesta was up against an Italian. Nesta had fought this person previously and was looking
to settle the score… Nesta did exactly that by finishing the 3rd round in a no-nonsense fashion, to put her name in the finals.
There was another semi-final which had 2 GB fighters going toe to toe… This was the ladies u/55kg point fighting category and we had Tennessee Randall vs. Ishana Moores. Tennessee took a commanding lead early on in the
fight, but Ishana with a ‘never say die’ attitude, changed that and the fight went down to the wire, where Tennessee prevailed as the winner. Great fight none the less and well done Ishana, on your bronze medal.
Next in line was Trinity Leeson-Rice ladies u/55kg point fighting. Her opponent from Greece was a very experienced fighter and the two duelled it out for 3 intensive rounds. Her opponent managed to gain a lead near the end of the fight and maintained it to the bell. Another hard fought and
well-deserved bronze medal for Trinity.
Nesta Baxter was next up in the ladies u65kg point fighting category. Another experienced fighter stood before her from Hungary. The fight went back and forth in the early stages, but the Hungarian managed to secure a lead and maintain it throughout. Nesta just fell short on this occasion but will bounce back no doubt. A well-earned bronze medal went to Nesta.
Team GB had 3 fighters in finals and after a hearty lunch, the athletes were ready to take on Europe’s finest.
Tennessee Randall was first up and her final was the ladies u/55kg light contact vs. a fighter from Croatia. Tennessee wasted no time in totally dominating this fight by delivering some excellent kicking combinations and strong hand techniques. When the dust had settled, Tennessee was crowned
EUSA Combat Games European Champion.
Nesta Baxter was next up for her ladies u65kg light contact contest against the same Hungarian she had fought earlier on in the day, in the points category. The first round was a cagey affair, and after round 2 the Hungarian had a slight lead. In the third round, Nesta stepped up the intensity to make it a thrilling finish. On this occasion Nesta was just short in winning the bout. A silver medal to add to her tally for the week.
To finish off the trio Tennessee Randall was up in the ladies u55kg points fighting category. Her opponent was from Greece and both stood toe-to-toe to do battle. It was nonstop action from start to finish and Tennessee was always playing catch up. When the final bell went, it was the Greek fighter
who was victorious. A hard-earned silver medal went to Tennessee.
So that was the end to a very long week, but the squad gelled and supported each other throughout the week, demonstrating a great bond within the GB squad.
The GB squad came away with:
We are already looking forward to next year’s Championships in Belgrade, which will, no doubt, be bigger and better!
I would like to personally thank the entire squad this week for their efforts. It was a pleasure to be part of this experience of the first EUSA EUROPEAN COMBAT GAMES.
Special note also goes to Lucy Edwards for the behind the scenes support.